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This week, several legislative oversight committees met to discuss a variety of economic, education, technological, and transportation issues facing thestate. As the legislative interim continues, the General Assembly will continue to discuss the issues that will be considered in the short sessionbeginning April 25th.
Economic Development & Global Engagement
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Economic Development and Global Engagement met on Thursday, February 4 to discuss economic issues facing thestate.
Jeff DeBellis of the Labor & Economic Analysis Division of the Department of Commerce proposed a plan to replace the current tiered system of rankingcounties with a metric based index. He suggested that the current system, which ranks counties as tiers one, two or three based on unemployment rates,median household income, percentage growth in population and adjusted property tax base per capital, does not accurately capture the distress a county isexperiencing. In NC, a county’s tier rating is a factor in applying commerce programs. The proposed system would take causes of distress into account andscore each counties metrics using an index. The committee will continue to discuss the current tier system during the interim.
See the presentationhere.
The committee also heard from Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dr. Pat Mitchell, the current programs offered by the Rural Economic Development Division.The Rural Economic Division’s mission is to enhance commerce throughout rural regions of the state and currently receives no state appropriated funds. Thedivision uses grant funds to support economic development projects across the state.
Read more about the projects of the divisionhere.
Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla offered his two greatest priorities to enhance NC’s economy. Skvarla emphasized the need to bring high speed internet toall rural areas of the state to encourage business as a top priority. He also suggested that businesses, especially small businesses need greater access tocapital.
The committee will reconvene in March to further discuss economic development issues facing NC.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education met on Tuesday, February 2. The committee heard from a variety of presenters on education matters.
The Honorable Anne Marie Calibria spoke on behalf of the Triangle Literacy Council. The Triangle Literacy Council was established in Wake CountyCourthouses to serve court involved and at risk youth. The program provides weekly tutoring sessions, developing basic literacy skills, life skills andimproved academic performance, to this population. Calibria highlighted that 70% of participants who complete the program have no new adjudications for 12months. The Triangle Literacy Council would like to open two new centers over the next years at a total two year cost of $690,000. They proposed that thenew centers serve Durham, Person, Johnson, Franklin, Granville and Vance counties.
Read more about the Triangle Literacy Councilhere.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by President Obama in December 2015, replaced No Student Left Behind. State Superintendent June Atkinson, andDirector of Data Lou Fabrizo of the Research and Federal Policy Division, NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI), presented the highlights of theESSA and what changes will occur in the state’s public school system. The ESSA returns decision making authority back to the states, while continuing torequire regular performance analysis through standardized testing. The new act will also require schools to report student data regarding status as afoster child, homelessness and being a part of a military family. DPI will continue to discuss these changes with the legislature.
Clickherefor more information on the ESSA.
Chief Academic Officer Lisa Chapman and Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Haygood, both of the NC Community College System, proposed the use ofcompetency-based education over time-based education in NC community colleges. They explained that competency education fits the average community collegestudent and allows them to become prepared to join the NC workforce. They requested a one-time appropriation of $500,000 in the short session to supportthe project. The committee requested more information on what that funding would be used for.
Read more about competency based educationhere.
The Education Oversight Committee will reconvene on March 1.
Information Technology Oversight
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology met on Thursday, February 4, to discuss IT concerns facing the state.
State Chief Information Officer Keith Warner presented an overview of the new Department of Information Technology (DIT). DIT has responded to several ITconcerns facing the state in their first 100 days. They have replaced 1,750 computers and have seen a 35% growth in service consumption in the SchoolConnectivity Program, among other accomplishments
The committee heard from Shannon Tufts, of the UNC School of Government for Public Technology, on data security, data breaches and liability. Tuftsprovided a general overview of data breaches to the committee, emphasizing the costs of data breaches and the importance of contracts and workplace culturein preventing breaches.
Read more about data breaches here.
The House Select Committee on Strategic Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions met on Monday, February 1, to discuss the long term needs of thestate in terms of transportation.
By 2040, NC’s population is expected to reach 13 million, with 74% of residents living in the 6 major metropolitan areas. Patrick Norman, Branch Manager,Transportation Planning Branch, Department of Transportation, discussed the long term needs of the state as it continues to grow; this is referred to asthe 2040 plan. By 2040, it’s estimated that the state will need to invest approximately $123 billion into transportation infrastructure to address currentdeficiencies and accruing needs.
Read more about the 2040 plan here.
Several subcommittees of the House Select Committee on Strategic Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions met on Monday to discuss specifictransportation focus areas.
The Subcommittee on Primary Systems heard an overview of metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) from Executive Director Chris Lukasina of the CapitalArea MPO. MPOs are federally mandated and funded, and are responsible for regional transportation planning and coordination and policy making for urbanizedareas in excess of 50,000 citizens.
Click here to readmore about MPOs in NC.
The Subcommittee on Secondary Systems discussed the capital needs of the Ferry Division. Special Projects Engineer Sterling Baker, of the DOT, emphasizedthat NC has the 2nd largest state operated ferry system in the United States. Ferries in NC are used for everything from tourism to transportingstudents in Currituck County. Baker discussed the capital improvement needs of the ferries to keep them operational.
Click here to readmore about NC’s ferry system.
The Subcommittee on Public Transportation and Aviation heard several presentations on aviation in NC. There are 72 publically owned airports in NC with acombined annual economic impact of $31.1 billion. President and CFO of Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Michael Languth, and Airport Manager of theBurlington-Alamance Airport Authority, Dan Danieley both presented on the impacts of the airports they oversee.
Read more about aviation in NC here.
The Subcommittee on Ports and Rails discussed the economic impact of NC’s supply chain with Dana Magliola and Lindsay Schilleman, Supply Chain Scholars atNC State University. The leading sectors of NC’s supply chain are: transportation, distribution & logistics, pharmaceutical, biologics & medicalproducts, industrial machinery & transportation equipment, and tobacco & foodstuffs. The study also examined the key trends currently facing NC’ssupply chain, they include: increased environment & efficiency efforts, changes in the regulatory environment and demands for highly skilled labor asindustries modernize.
Click here toread more about NC’s supply chain.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Transportation met on Friday, February 5 to discuss a variety of transportation issues facing thestate.
Majed Al-Gandour, Project Management Unit, Division of Planning and Programming DOT and Rose Vaughn Williams, Director of Public and Government Affairs, NCLeague of Municipalities, discussed Powell Bill funds with the committee. Powell Bill funds provide financial assistance to 507 municipalities across thestate for municipality maintained roads. The funds can be used for street construction and maintenance, bikeways, greenways and sidewalks, and other streetrelated expenditures.
The committee discussed current rail projects in the state with Paul Worley, the Director
of the NCDOT Rails Division. Worley presented on two programs currently in progress in the state. Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery(TIGER), established in 2009, to grant funding to transportation projects, has funded the repairs made to the North Carolina Virginia Rail Corridor. ThePiedmont Improvement Program (PIP), which is largely funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has made ongoing improvement to rail systemsstretching from Raleigh to Charlotte. Improvements to this rail system began in 2015 and are expected to be completed by 2017.
Click here to readmore about rail projects.
Mike Holder Chief Engineer Division of Highways, NCDOT, provided several updates on the Department of Transportation.
NCDOT has begun the implementation of the NCDOT REPORT program. REPORT, which stands for responsiveness, efficiency, performance, oversight, restructureand transparency, was created to improve the relationship between NCDOT and North Carolinians. REPORT has implemented several initiatives to increasetransparency, streamline performance, and improve efficiency across the department.
Read more about NCDOT REPORT efforts here.
Holder also provided an update on the department’s progress in meeting outsourcing goals and the use of baseline pricing for transportation projects.
The Joint Oversight Committee on Transportation will reconvene on February 22.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance met on Wednesday, February 3. The committee heard several updates on unemploymentinsurance in NC.
Greg Roney of the NCGA’s Legislative Analysis Division provided an introduction to the Unemployment Insurance Program. There are three types ofunemployment benefits: regular benefits, extended benefits and emergency benefits; in NC, people are no longer able to stack these benefits. Roney alsohighlighted that NC has a trust fund balance of over $1 billion in reserve, which continues to grow. This growth will soon trigger the state to move down atier on the Federal Unemployment Tax structure.
Read more about unemployment insurance in NChere.
Interim Assistant Secretary of the Division of Employment Security Tedd Brinn presented a further report on unemployment insurance to the committee. In2015, 234,638 unemployment claims were filed and $335 million in benefits were paid out. According to the department, the average turnaround for claims isfive weeks.
Click here formore information from the Division of Employment Security.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee met on Tuesday February, 2 to discuss the employment tools available to North Carolinians through NCWorks.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Division of Workforce Solutions, Catherine Moga Bryant, provided an overview of NCWorks. NCWorks oversees NC workforcedevelopment programs, develops policy to align workforce programs and oversees NCWorks career centers. NCWorks aims to connect talent to jobs by engagingwith employers and identifying and developing talent with job seekers.
NCWorks operates 81 career centers across NC, as well as providing online services. NCWorks serves unemployed adults, children, and veterans.
Youth programming includes programs for at risk and impoverished youth who face barriers to employment including homelessness, juvenile record, and teenparenthood.
VVeteran’s services help veterans with barriers to employment through job placement. The program has served approximated 40,000 NC veterans. NCWorks staffare present at both Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.
Read more about NCWorkshere.
A Look Ahead to Next Week
- 8:30am – NC Charter School Advisory Board Meeting
- 9:00am – General Government Oversight
- 1:00pm – Program Evaluation Oversight
- 8:30am – NC Charter School Advisory Board Meeting
- 8:30am – Health and Human Services Oversight
- 9:30am – Revenue Laws
- 1:00pm – Medicaid & NC Health Choice Oversight
- 9:00am – Environmental Review Commission
- 1:00pm – Capital Improvements Oversight
- 1:00pm – Justice and Public Safety Oversight Subcommittee on Body Worn Cameras
- 1:30pm – Environmental Review Commission Waste Working Group
- 9:30am – Emergency Management Oversight
- 9:30am – Lottery Oversight
- 1:00pm – Justice and Public Safety Oversight
- 10:00am – NC Courts Commission